Dec. 1, 2012
By Neil Koepke, MSUSpartans.com Staff Writer
EAST LANSING - Michigan State freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand did about as much as he could to give his team a chance to beat Ohio State on Friday night. He was sharp, alert, quick and made some big stops among his 32 saves and perhaps the only flaw in his game was that he couldn't find a way to score a goal himself.
Another outstanding performance by Hildebrand was spoiled by a late Buckeye goal that gave Ohio State a grind-it-out 1-0 CCHA victory over the Spartans in front of a near-sellout crowd of 6,417 at Munn Arena.
Hildebrand, a 5-foot-11, 182-pound rookie from Butler, Pa., has lost three of his first six starts, and in each loss, MSU has not scored a goal.
"He's given us a chance to win every night and that's all you can ask,'' MSU junior captain Greg Wolfe said of Hildebrand. "He let in one goal tonight. That's on us. We have to find a way to create more scoring chances.''
Hildebrand (2-3-1, 1.71 goals-against average, .946 save percentage) lost to Bowling Green, 1-0, on Nov. 2 and to Miami, 2-0, Nov. 24. He has backstopped victories over Lake Superior State (4-2) and Michigan (7-2) and has a tie against Miami (2-2).
MSU has been shut out in back-to-back games for on the third time in school history - the first time in 2009 and again in 2010.
The teams will conclude the two-game series at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Munn Arena.
On Friday, in a game between two teams struggling to score goals and a contest devoid of great scoring chances, the Buckeyes (6-4-3, 5-2-2-1) finally solved Hildebrand with 2:17 left in the third period. Sophomore left wing Ryan Dzingel pounced on a rebound in the crease and chipped the puck into the top right corner to break the scoreless tie. Hildebrand made chest save on a hard one-time shot from the left circle by junior right wing Alex Szchechura, but the puck dropped into the crease. Spartan defenders tried to clear the bouncing puck but Dzingel made contact and it ended up in the net for his team-leading sixth goal of the season.
The Spartans (4-7-2 overall, 3-5-1 CCHA) fired 31 shots on OSU senior goalie Brady Hjelle, including 14 in the first period and 12 in the third. It was his second shutout this season. With Hildebrand pulled for a sixth attacker, the Spartans created a great chance to tie the game off a faceoff in the right circle with 14 seconds left.
"I liked our effort. The guys played hard but we couldn't get the goal to get us over the hump and get our crowd into the game,'' MSU coach Tom Anastos said. "There were a lot of momentum changes. It was a style of game we were prepared for. It was tough to find room out there. They play a sound - and in some ways suffocating - defense. I'm sure that was a really good road game for them.''
Each team had a goal called back in the second period.
OSU thought it had scored at 11:33 when Tanner Fritz's shot from the left circle looked like it went into the top right corner of the net. It was ruled a goal, but after it was reviewed, the goal was waived off because it hit the crossbar near the right post, but never completely crossed the goal line.
At 16:51, MSU's Hayes flipped in a rebound at the edge of the crease to give MSU a 1-0 lead ... but, oh, wait. It was also reviewed by the referees and disallowed because OSU goalie Hjelle was interfered with by a Spartan just before the puck came loose in front.
The game entered the final period with just about everyone - players, coaches and fans - figuring that one goal was going to be the difference. They were right.
"We competed hard in trying to generate scoring chances. We just have to figure out a way to get more pucks on goal,'' Anastos said. "Their goalie played very well. He didn't give out a lot of rebounds. On their goal, it lays right in front, people are scrambling and it goes into the net. That's how games like these are decided.''
Anastos was full of praise for his goaltender, Hildebrand.
"He played an excellent game. He made some really good saves,'' the coach said. "He's doing his job back there.''